Tweet This. – Part 1

Lisa HarperWhoa boy, was Lisa ever onto something.

The Bible is filled with scriptures about difficult times in life. In John, chapter 16, Jesus tells us that we will have trouble. In the first chapter of James, he exhorts us to consider trials and tribulations as an opportunity for growth. Peter says that when times are challenging that we are to cast our cares on Him. Difficulties will come our way. They just will. How we handle them is a totally different thing.

Which brings me to drama. Drama is a medium that is filled with intensity and depicts a serious subject. While we are not talking about a TV series or play on Broadway when referring to drama, it can certainly come into play here.

(See what I did there? Play? Okay, I’ll stop.)

When life gets tumultuous and things don’t go according to our plan, we have options. We can throw ourselves a big, fat pity party complete with confetti and streamers. We can nurse a bitter heart and overreact. We can draw copious amounts of attention to ourselves so others will notice. We can toss out a little passive aggressive rant on social media. Or … we can respond with a heart that trusts God still knows what He is doing. Maybe it is time to turn down the drama.

We all need to ask God to search our hearts in regard to this. Are we walking through difficulties in life with trust in our God or with a dramatic bent? What is one way that you can make a change today?

These Tweet This quotes are just a few of the amazing bits of insight we picked up from speakers at Re:Treat 2015. Join us for Re:Treat 2016 in Las Vegas October 25-27. Check out all of the details by clicking here.

You Asked. We Answered. – Part 4

Julie RichardWritten by Julie Richard

A friend used to always tell me that my calling is different than my husbands. At re:treat, Julie Richard said it is “our calling.” Can you explain more?

When I married my husband, he was on staff at a church. When he said he felt like God was calling him to plant a church in Austin, Texas, I was a great cheerleader. I was his biggest fan. We moved to Austin with our 3-year-old and 1-year-old and planted Lake Hills Church. I cheered him on and supported him as he led the church. You see, I’d always seen ministry as HIS calling…God’s call on HIS life.

But several years into his pastoring LHC, something shifted. I’m not certain what prompted the change…but something definitely changed. For the first time, I saw the difference between SUPPORTING my husband’s calling and SHARING my husband’s calling. And recognizing this significant difference has not only changed the way we do ministry, but has added excitement and enjoyment to ministry.

Genesis 2:24 reads, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” When we married, we became ONE…ONE FLESH, ONE HEART. Therefore, HIS Julie Richard 2calling was actually OUR calling. To be sure, the initial calling into ministry was on Mac’s life, but once we married, this became OUR calling into ministry. This is more than SUPPORTING his calling…it’s SHARING his calling. During the first years of our marriage and ministry, we rowed in two canoes…I was in my own canoe, rowing BESIDE him…two canoes, same direction. And this was good. But, when I recognized the difference between SUPPORTING and SHARING, I climbed into his canoe and began rowing WITH him. And this, my friends, was GREAT! I still had two small children at home, and my role at the church didn’t drastically change. But my mindset did. And so did my marriage…for the better…lots better. Two people in the same canoe, rowing in the same direction, moving more efficiently and more effectively!

I’m not a victim of my husband’s calling. I don’t blame the challenges that come with ministry on him and HIS calling. Sure, the challenges are still there, as they are with any job that deals with people. But my perspective has changed. Leading Lake Hills Church is OUR calling. We are in this ministry canoe TOGETHER. One flesh, one heart, one calling. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Do you see ministry as the calling you and your husband have together? If so, how do you minister together through the different seasons of life? If not, what steps do you need to take today to change your mindset?

You Asked. We Answered. – Part 3

Stephanie ShouseWritten by Stephanie Shouse

How do you lead and love it with a lack of financial resources?

When I was in middle school, my dad quit his well-paying secular job to go into full-time ministry at a Christian school. Finances became extremely tight for our family of five, but it meant that we got to serve God together so it was worth it. That November our school hosted a food drive for a needy family. My two younger sisters and I wanted to participate, but we didn’t really have the money to contribute. So we got creative. We dug through the couch cushions, searched the floorboard of the car, and sifted through the junk drawer until we found enough change to purchase three boxes of generic macaroni and cheese. You know, the three boxes for $1 kind? We were each so proud to be able to bring our little box of mac & cheese to the food drive. It didn’t matter that others were bringing in bags of food to contribute, we simply brought what we had. Several lean weeks later the school principal arrived at our house. He had come with a great surprise: the food drive had been for us! As he and several others hauled a truck load of groceries into our kitchen, my parents cried and my sisters and I rejoiced. And there on the counter were our three little boxes of mac & cheese returned to us a hundredfold!

In ministry money is often tight, and it feels as if there’s never enough to do everything we need or want to do. We know that the sacrifice is worth it because we’re serving God, but how can we lead and love it when facing a lack of financial resources? Here’s what I’ve learned from Scripture and my own experience:

  1. Be creative. When we needed funds for the food drive, we got creative and looked in unconventional places to find cash. When Jesus’ disciples owed taxes, He told them to go fishing, but the money didn’t come from the usual sale of their catch… it came from a gold coin found in a fish’s mouth! God always gives us what we need, but it doesn’t always come from expected places. If money is tight, get creative! Do you need fabulous VBS or KidMin decorations but don’t have the budget for what you see in the catalogue? Find some free clipart and a projector and start tracing! Cardboard is free at local body shops or appliance stores, and craft paint is cheap! Kids want big and colorful and fun – they don’t care how much you spent on it. Are you hosting a women’s dinner and find yourself lacking decorations? Ask individual women in your church to be in charge of decorating a single table with their own dishes & centerpieces. It might not be Pinterest-worthy but it will be interesting and will show off the personalities of the women in your group!
  1. Use what you have. When we brought our three little boxes of mac & cheese into school for the food drive, it could have been very discouraging to see the other kids bringing in so much more. But God only expects us to use what we have. When Jesus saw a widow giving her tiny offering in the temple, He was impressed with her faith because she gave what she had! It didn’t matter that others gave so much more. In ministry it’s easy to get discouraged when we see the big budget and all the resources other ministries seem to have. But God doesn’t want us to compare ourselves to others – He wants us to use what we have! So, what do you have? Do you have a talented photographer who could take pictures to use as backgrounds during your worship service instead of buying pre-made graphics? Do you have a seamstress who can create simple costumes out of cheap sheets? Do you have a local school or theater group who would loan you spotlights for your special program or a larger ministry down the street who will pass on last year’s Bible study curriculum? Look around – what has God given you that He wants you to use for His glory?
  1. 3. Let God multiply the results. When we gave our tiny contribution to the food drive, we had no idea what God was going to do with it. When a little boy gave his lunch to Jesus, he had no idea that it would multiply to feed over 5,000 people. When we give what little resources we have to God, He can turn it into something amazing! A church I know had only 40 elderly members but they got creative during VBS and turned their building into a jungle using packing paper, old tablecloths, and a few props borrowed from the local high school. They reached over 100 neighborhood kids in that one week! Another church tapped into their members’ big personalities and started a creative ministry that used drama, music & humor to spread the truth of God’s Word. They only had a $200 budget for the year but God used that to reach many lost people, encourage multiple churches, and even pull off a successful creative ministry workshop for their corner of the state! God can do amazing things with our small investments!

Steph Shouse 2Consider this: the early church had no education, no budget, no building, and yet God used them to completely changed the world! God called us to do ministry, but He doesn’t expect us to do it on our own. He has promised to supply all our needs according to His glorious riches (Phil 4:19). That’s a promise that should keep us leading & loving it even when we’re facing a lack of resources!

What do you have that you can creatively use in your ministry? How have you seen God take your small offering and multiply it for His glory?

 

You Asked. We Answered. – Part 2

Kim ScottWritten by Kimberly Scott

How do you encourage your husband when he is not leading it and loving it? What is the best way to remain supportive of my husband as a pastor, but encourage healthy amounts of unplugged and disconnected time from the church?

“Everybody loves a leader until they lead.”  I heard that quote years ago when my husband and I were knee deep transitioning our traditional 100 yr. old church. No truer words have ever been spoken. Each bold step my man took to steer the rudder of our ancient and quickly sinking ship brought out the spirit of mutiny and fear amongst the ‘crew’ and passengers. He became sullen, angry and almost paranoid with fear and anxiety over the loss of respect and support. I watched a strong man with BIG shoulders and a heart for God become broken and disheartened. He was NOT leading and loving it and neither was I.

I felt at such a loss to know what to say to encourage him. One evening I walked into our bedroom closet and found him sitting on a stool sobbing with his head in his hands. I tried to console him the best I could, but the only thing that came out of my mouth was this: “Honey, we have to accept that there will ALWAYS be problems and people that disagree with your leadership. We can’t change that, but we have to figure out a way to change the way we deal with it.” We needed to stop trying to carry and manage every conflict on the OUTSIDE and figure a way to steward our own hearts on the INSIDE.

Kim Scott 1Soon after I was sitting with my friend, Lori, around our backyard fire pit and she asked me when the last time was that he had some kind of break or rest. I had to answer honestly. For the six years that we had been married, he had NEVER taken his paid vacation, and frankly refused to take his scheduled days off each week. He was addicted to his purpose and working made him feel productive. She shared a link with me from Pastor Ed Young Jr. about the importance of building margin into your life as a leader and the importance of time off for the health of your home, ministry and life. I quietly sent him the link hoping something would resonate before we completely bottomed out. Ladies, that day something changed in my man for GOOD. My husband called me the next morning in tears asking for forgiveness for not taking the necessary time to refuel and repair his own heart and spirit. He immediately scheduled our vacation time away and committed to staying ‘unplugged’ for a time of true Sabbath. We’ve been married ten years now and he has kept the same promise. God is FAITHFUL.

I love the passage in Mark 6:31 that says, ”And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to deserted place and rest a while.”  Jesus was speaking to the disciples after they had taught and ministered to the sick, broken, demon possessed and lost.   He KNEW that they needed time alone to recover from the highs and lows of all they had experienced. There is something powerful and intoxicating about being on the front line of ministry. It is thrilling AND exhausting but the danger of pride and ego can begin to overcome your motives if not checked. I believe we are called to a DESERTED place by God to allow for a time of healthy introspection, prayer and more importantly learning that our total reliance is on Him. When we decide to take on and navigate the waves of the storm on our own, our ship will eventually sink. We were not meant to manage, control or own all the variables that take place in every day ministry life. We do have a burden to carry, but the ‘yoke’ is meant to be light because we are required to release it to Him daily. Remember that there is a gentle Captain just waiting for you to loosen your grip on the wheel and come away to a deserted place with Him. He has been and always will be in charge of this journey.

Vacations are sometimes difficult to schedule for so many reasons, but where is a ‘deserted place’ that you can go to each day to find peace and refuel?

 

You Asked. We Answered. – Part 1

Cindy BeallWritten by Cindy Beall

At Re:Treat last November, many of you sent in questions to us. After reading through all of them, we pulled out the ones that seemed to be more common. We will address four questions over the next two weeks.

What safeguards do you put in place to protect your marriage?

Years and years ago, my husband and I had a dear friend who came to see us almost every weekend. He was a fantastic man of God. We were very close. He was like a brother to me. We spent time together sometimes without my husband and during those times, we often shared our hearts and dreams.

I sit here shaking my head at my actions and in disbelief that I never committed adultery with him. Not because I liked him in that way, because I didn’t. I loved my husband. But, when you find a refuge, any sort of respite with a man other than your husband, danger awaits. I praise God that I didn’t not get tricked into an adulterous scenario by my spiritual enemy.

We receive questions similar to the one above consistently. But to merely put plans, guidelines and rules in place to protect our marriages is not enough. To do this and not address the heart of the person is like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound that needs serious attention. Yes, it is smart to have some dos and don’ts about what will keep our marriages healthy and protected and I will suggest some, but it cannot start there. The best way to protect a marriage is to relentlessly pursue Jesus on your own as well as with your husband.

Scripture teaches us that the heart is deceitful (Jer. 17:9). Yet, we hear all the time that we are “good people” and will “do the right things.” Friend, we were born with a sinful nature and our bent is to sin. Make no mistake about that. So, we must pursue Jesus if we want to walk with a pure heart before God instead of a deceitful one. We must spend time with Him, in His Word meditating on His character and His ways so that we can know His voice. Because when we know His voice, we know when He speaks and when we know when He speaks, we can be confident as we follow His lead.

So as you pursue Jesus, here are some practical safeguards to put into place to protect your marriage:

Cindy Beall 2Be a cheerleader. Your husband needs support and encouragement. There will be other people who do that in his life, but just make sure your voice is the loudest. You can either build him up with your words or tear him down. Make sure yours carry the most weight with him. Heck, go buy the whole cheerleading outfit complete with pom poms and tassels if you want. Just be his biggest fan.

Create a sanctuary at home. Your home is the place that needs to be protected for your husband, yourself and your family. When you serve the body of Christ in a full-time ministry role, you must have a safe place where your family can unwind and rest. If the home is chaotic, your husband may not rush home from work. Establish a setting that is comfortable, peaceful and a refuge. Make your husband want to come home.

Keep your guard up. I don’t care if you are absolutely, 100% smitten with your husband and he with you. You must be on your guard when communicating with the opposite sex. As a pastor, you both will communicate with the opposite sex. Just make sure there is a boundary in place that keeps you from sharing personal issues that create a vulnerable environment. I often bring up my husband’s name when talking with a man. I might say, “Chris and I so appreciate all you’ve done for the so and so” or something like that. When you do speak to someone of the opposite sex, make sure it’s in an open space. Don’t spend time alone with someone of the opposite sex – grab an extra person to sit in on a counseling or lunch appointment. Be safe. Be smart. I’ve spoken with more women and men who’ve been unfaithful to their spouse than I can even remember and do you want to know how many of them planned to commit adultery? Zero. Not one single person I’ve talked to said, “Yeah, I had a feeling I would break my wife’s heart or husband’s heart about seven years into our marriage.” Keep your guard up because your spiritual enemy takes no days off. And he will take something that started with pure intentions and turn it into a disastrous situation. Trust me.  

Find your porch. Make time to connect with your spouse each day. Notice I said “make time.” That’s right. Our lives can be hectic and over-scheduled, and we throw the phrase “I don’t have time for…” around all the time. The truth is that we have time for what’s important to us. Whatever way you enjoy connecting with each other, do that! All couples are not created equal so what works for one couple doesn’t always work for another. Sit outside on your porch like my husband and I do. Take walks. Go to a movie. Exercise. Go shopping. Plant a garden. Enjoy your favorite restaurant. Travel. The list is endless. The important thing is to connect each day. Your marriage depends on it.

Consider the team. You and your husband are a team. It is not you against him or him against you. If you have that mindset, then the marriage loses. If you are pleased when he fails and you win, the marriage loses. If you hope that he experiences defeat so that you can be the victor, the marriage loses. You are a team – made one in God’s sight when you pledge your covenant to Him. Work for the team, not for yourselves.

I realize that most of the advice I’ve shared today implies a call to servanthood. That is correct. Serve your husband. Whether you work outside the home or not. You may say, “But I want him to serve me, too!” Yes, it would be ideal if serving each other was something you both did. But just because God has him as the spiritual leader of your family doesn’t mean you can’t lead him by example. Because that’s what Jesus did. He came to this earth to take on the nature of a servant. It is truly the greatest calling there is.

Talk with your husband about these safeguards. Which ones are you doing consistently and which ones need some attention?